It's possible to lose and still come out ahead
HERE are two more losers you can add to the post-election winners' circle: state Rep. Cynthia Thielen and Democratic Party chairman Mike McCartney.
First loser who is actually a winner is McCartney, who backed Democrat Randy Iwase, who lost the race for governor by a bigger percentage than any other Republican or Democrat in the history of Hawaii.
McCartney's a winner because if anyone is up to the job of cat-herding required as Democratic Party chairman it is McCartney.
A good definition of "infinity" would be the measurement of the egos soaring through the Democratic Party with its majority ownership of the Legislature, county councils and congressional delegation.
McCartney came into the job after the embarrassing quest by former party chairman Brickwood Galuteria to find a candidate for governor. Finally, Galuteria handed it to McCartney, who was left with Randy Iwase and William Aila, two relatively unknown aspirants.
But McCartney had other problems, a potentially disastrous primary election with one-fifth of the state Senate running for a congressional seat and a popular Democratic congressman trying to replace the venerable Sen. Dan. Akaka.
Akaka beat the somewhat less-popular-than-first-thought Rep. Ed Case and none of the senators got to fill Case's shoes, as former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono won the congressional contest. And Democrats continued to treat GOP legislators like a pinata, as their numbers in the state House dropped for the third election in a row.
If there is a dark cloud in McCartney's picture it is that GOP Gov. Linda Lingle gets more votes than any other politician in the state. While Republicans were getting pounded across the mainland, Lingle soared.
Lingle herself called the other winning loser, Thielen, "a great candidate," although she was the sacrificial goat picked by the Republicans to face the Akaka onslaught after Jerry Coffee, the GOP designated hitter, had a heart attack and couldn't make the campaign.
Thielen ran a perfectly classy underdog campaign. Instead of foolishly attacking Akaka, she talked about how much she wanted to do for the environment; she pointed to her record of achievement and how even as a minority House member she was able to move legislation.
There was a credibility and persistence to her campaign that was aided by the extra efforts of her family members.
Lingle, ever the fiscal conservative, was charmed that Thielen was able to raise her own campaign bucks.
"Cynthia Thielen showed what you can do if you are committed and you believe in yourself and you reach out to people," Lingle said.
Watch for both McCartney and Thielen to pick up more wins in the future.
writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org